Category Archives: Newsletter

Any post that is intended to edn up in the bi-monthly news letter

Questions From The Trenches

For this installment of APA Questions From The Trenches, we asked APA President Maury Koffman to answer a potpourri of questions that members have brought to his attention recently.

I have been informed that my workspace will be relocated through a department reorganization.  How is the decision made where my new workspace will be located?

The University, as the employer, retains the right to determine your office workspace under prevailing law and the APA contract.  However, any decision must be reasonable and in most reorganizations, APs are asked for their input before a final decision is made.  The APA is able to assist in reaching a mutual resolution to your office space as it has an overall impact on your daily work environment and can impact your ability to perform your work responsibilities.

I have been asked to wear specific clothing during the workday.  Can my supervisor and the University require specific attire to be worn in the workplace?

There is precedent that the University can have a reasonable expectation that employees wear appropriate, professional attire in the workplace.  However, the approach must be uniformly applied.

I have been offered another job on campus.  How much notice must I give before resigning my current position?

There is no length of notice requirement to resign from your current position.  The APA encourages providing as much notice as possible with the standard of two weeks notice if your calendar for transition allows.

If I leave MSU employment prior to 25 years of service, do I retain the total balance of my 403(b) retirement account including the MSU contribution?

Yes.  The APA is proud to have negotiated a vibrant retirement plan.  Employee contributions are 5% and University contributions are 10% of the employee’s base annual salary. The money contributed to your 403(b) plan vests immediately and goes with you at any time you conclude your employment relationship with MSU.

I have questions about our APA bargained retirement plan administered through MSU.  Who can I contact for more information?

There is an FAQ on the MSU HR website at that provides more information around our retirement plan.  Additionally, you can contact the retirement office via phone at 517.353.4434 or via email at

Know Your Rights: What isn’t in your contract?

There are many employment laws governing your work environment that are not referenced in the collective bargaining agreement. For APA members, these laws are enforced by APA/MEA and covered under the MEA Legal Representation Policy at no cost to a member.

A brief overview of FMLA from the Department of Labor reviews the basics of FMLA and its purpose:

The FMLA entitles eligible employees of covered employers to take unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons with continuation of group health insurance coverage under the same terms and conditions as if the employee had not taken leave.

Eligible employees are entitled to:

Twelve workweeks of leave in a 12-month period for:

• the birth of a child and to care for the newborn child within one year of birth;

• the placement with the employee of a child for adoption or foster care and to care for the newly placed child within one year of placement;

• to care for the employee’s spouse, child, or parent who has a serious health condition;

• a serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the essential functions of his or her job;

• any qualifying exigency arising out of the fact that the employee’s spouse, son, daughter, or parent is a covered military member on “covered active duty;” or Twenty-six workweeks of leave during a single 12-month period to care for a covered service member with a serious injury or illness if the eligible employee is the service member’s spouse, son, daughter, parent, or next of kin (military caregiver leave). Family and Medical Leave Act

The University runs the FMLA year on the fiscal year, July 1-June 30 each year. The FMLA leave runs concurrently with your sick leave if the illness or family illness is covered by FMLA and you have filled out the paperwork and it has been accepted. To apply for FMLA, you need to contact MSU Human Resource Total Compensation and Wellness Leaves Office to talk to a Benefit Leave Advisor. Some of the forms can be found online and by contacting Human Resources (517) 353-4434.

APA leaders and staff are able to assist members through the process and enforce employee rights under FMLA. In addition, there may also be employee protections that can be provided by enforcing the American with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA is also covered by the MEA Legal Representation Policy for members.

APA frequently receives inquiries into the application of Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) by the University. If you are contacted by the MSU Leave Office regarding the denial of medical certification for FMLA or are being asked to go to get a second medical opinion, please call the APA Office for assistance, (517) 999-4004 or

APA Prepares for Bargaining a Successor Contract

Per Article VII of the APA Constitution and Bylaws, the APA must begin preparations to negotiate a successor agreement by naming our Negotiations Committee in January of the year our current contract is set to expire.

Noting our current collective bargaining agreement is in force from October 1, 2011, to September 30, 2015, the APA Executive Board has appointed a cross-section of more than 20 APA members to serve on the Negotiations Committee.

As you likely recall, the APA negotiated and ratified our wage and health care agreement, which is in effect through 2017 – 2018, that ensures the opportunity for wage increases each year as well as fully funded health care for the base plan.

Therefore, base wage increases and health care will not be a topic of negotiation for the upcoming bargaining.

The APA anticipates negotiations with MSU to begin in late summer.  Prior to that time, the APA will be engaging and soliciting membership input for bargaining through surveys, feedback forums, and email.  Ultimately, any tentative agreement reached at the bargaining table must be brought to a vote of the entire APA membership for ratification.

Be sure to watch official APA ListServ messages regarding contract input surveys and open meeting dates prior to and during the 2015 bargaining cycle. This is your union so your input is greatly appreciated!

APA 2015 Annual Picnic

This is a reminder that the APA Annual Picnic will be held later this week on Wednesday, May 27, 2015. This member event will be held at Patriarche Park at 1100 Alton Street in East Lansing from 4:30pm to 7:00pm under the picnic pavilion.

Relax, network, and have fun!  Food and beverages will be provided.  Bring the whole family to the festivities.  There will be fun activities for kids of all ages.

We hope to see you there!

Your Fellow APs

This month we feature Amber Cordell, Educational Programs Manager for The Office for International Students and Scholars

How long have you been at MSU?
7 years.

Have you been a member of APA the whole time?

Can you tell me a little bit about what you do?
I am the Educational Programs Manager in the Office for International Students and Scholars (OISS). I coordinate orientation for our international students and organize year-round cultural and educational programs. I am the liaison to all international Registered Student Organizations and am the advisor of the International Students Association (ISA). I facilitate leadership retreats and intercultural communication workshops for domestic and international students, faculty, staff and community members. I also serve as a consultant to many departments who strive to understand and meet the needs of our 8,000 international students from 130 countries! In other words, I have the coolest and most fun and rewarding job on campus!

What brought you to your job at MSU?
The honest answer to this question is a “man, but that’s a long story”. After teaching English in Japan for 3 years, I knew I wanted to help university students from around the world and to have a positive, transformative impact on young people’s lives. MSU is ranked in the top 10 for international student enrollment and study abroad participation, and our Office for International Students and Scholars has a great reputation in the field of international education. What an honor it is to work in this office and on this campus with such diverse students who teach me so much every day!

What do you love about working at MSU?
I love MSU’s diversity, the wealth of opportunities and resources available, the beautiful scenery in all four seasons and collaborating with my awesome partners across campus on programs that make a real difference. Most importantly, I love my OISS co-workers who have become my family.  

What do you like to do when you are not at work?
I like traveling the world, walking on our gorgeous campus, attending cultural and fine art events, taking photos, and singing karaoke!

2015 Election

APA Election Information

Voting Opens March 19 through 5:00pm March 31, 2015

Voting will be done electronically. APA members will receive information on voting via the official APA ListServ. Please watch our email for important election information.

Candidate Bio’s are listed below. Please note that for this election, all candidates are running for both the APA Executive Board and the MEA/NEA/RA Delegate positions.

Five (5) seats on the APA Executive Board with terms ending in 2018

Five (5) seats on the MEA/NEA/RA Delegate with terms ending in 2018

Candidate Bio’s:

Current Executive Board Members and MEA/NEA RA Delegates are reflected with a (B) incumbent indicator in front of their name.

 Candidate Name: (B) Nicholas (Nick) Bourland

Employing Unit: Human Resources Asst Vice President (Release position, currently serving as MSU Administrative Professional Assoc. Vice President)

Number of Years in the APA Union: 8

Number of Years Employed at Michigan State University: 16

Candidate Email Address:

 Candidate Name: Danny Layne

Employing Unit: Residential & Hospitality Services

Number of Years in the APA Union: 18

Number of Years Employed at Michigan State University:   20

Candidate Email Address:

 Candidate Name: (B) Erica Phillipich

Employing Unit: Student Health Services

Number of Years in the APA Union: 7

Number of Years Employed at Michigan State University: 7

Candidate Email Address:

 Candidate Name: (B) Leo Sell

Employing Unit: IT Services

Number of Years in the APA Union: 23

Number of Years Employed at Michigan State University: 23

Candidate Email Address:

 Candidate Name: (B) Dennis Seybert

Employing Unit: University Services, Purchasing

Number of Years in the APA Union: 4

Number of Years Employed at Michigan State University: 13

Candidate Email Address:

 Candidate Name: (B) Laura Wise

Employing Unit: International Studies and Programs

Number of Years in the APA Union: 4

Number of Years Employed at Michigan State University: 4

Candidate Email

What The APA Has Done For Me Lately: Litigating MSU’s Lump Sum Bonus Contract Violation

by Maury Koffman, APA President


The APA is proud to have led collective staff union negations that resulted in lump sum bonus payments, each in excess of $1,000, for APA bargaining unit members in January 2014 and January 2015.


As indicated in previous communications, roughly $300 per full-time bargaining unit member was withheld by the University from members’ January 2014 union negotiated lump sum bonus. The issued payment was $1,042.43 but the full payment as initially mutually agreed was $1,371. Through the assistance of the Michigan Education Association as our state affiliate, the APA successfully litigated the case and the lower court ruled in favor of the APA.


However, the third party plaintiff filed an appeal with the Michigan Court of Appeals on October 14.


The APA continues to be actively engaged in the litigation of this case and remains optimistic that the higher court will affirm the lower court’s ruling in our favor, compelling full payment of the remaining amount to those APA members who satisfied the January 2014 eligibility requirements.


In a disappointing unilateral action by the University, MSU unilaterally withheld roughly $100 from each member’s January 2015 lump sum bonus payment under the theory that should the third party plaintiff prevail in his legal appeal regarding the January 2014 lump sum bonus payment, the same impact would apply for the January 2015 payment. The issued payment was $961.81 but the full payment as initially mutually agreed was $1,059.


The APA is proud to have negotiated the lump sum bonus payments members that otherwise would not have been possible without our strong collective bargaining voice. And, while each full-time member has already received more than $2,000 in lump sum bonuses (in addition to notable annual base wage increases) the APA continues to use all necessary and legal avenues to enforce our ratified collective bargaining agreement.


We have already obtained MSU’s agreement that their unilateral violation of the APA contract has resulted in the undistributed lump sum bonus money accruing interest and that the all accrued interest will be included when the remaining lump sum bonus money is distributed to the APA membership.


The APA is pursing legal resolution that could result in roughly $400 being provided to each member who satisfied the eligibility requirements. However, without the collective voice of the union, it is doubtful individual members would expend the tens of thousands of dollars it has cost to bring a legal claim for a maximum return of roughly $400.


It is our strong collective voice through the union that gives us the necessary resources to legally pursue this issue on behalf of every member and ensure that MSU is not permitted to unilaterally violate our collective bargaining agreement. The APA’s position affirms that the University should immediately cease its ongoing unilateral violation of our mutually agreed collective bargaining agreement by issuing payment of the remaining amount from the January 2014 and 2015 lump sum bonus payments.


APA Election Information

Per the APA Constitution and Bylaws, the annual APA Executive Board election shall be conducted by March 31 of each year.  The 2015 election is scheduled to run from March 19 – March 31, 2015.

The 2015 election will include:

APA Executive Board
Five (5) seats on the APA Executive Board with terms ending in 2018

MEA/NEA/RA Delegate
Five (5) MEA/NEA/RA delegate positions with terms ending in 2018

This communication serves as notice of the election and the opening of candidate nominations. All nominations must be submitted via email to the chair of the APA 2015 Elections Committee, Sue Brandt, at no later than 12:00pm (noon) on Thursday, February 12, 2015.

Individuals must be APA members in good standing to nominate or be nominated for office. After the close of nominations, properly nominated candidates will be contacted by the Elections Committee  Chair to confirm their willingness to run for office.

The APA Elections Committee includes: Sue Brandt (Chair), Dave Graff, Carol Graysmith, Pat Hampton and Grimaldo Robles.

Each year, the APA Nominations and Elections Committee works diligently to operate an efficient, accurate and transparent election in compliance with the APA Constitution and Bylaws. Election results will be done on March 31, 2015 at 5:15pm at the APA Office.  This public election event is open to full members of the APA.  An election results announcement will be communicated with the membership March 31, 2015.

Further announcements around the election will be provided in future APA newsletters and via the official APA ListServ.  Please watch your email for important election information.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Sue Brandt,